Long Beach, California. April 1, 2024. – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it has set the launch window for its next Electron launch.

The ‘Beginning Of The Swarm’ mission is scheduled to launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 in Mahia, New Zealand during a 14-day launch window that opens on April 24th. Electron will carry two satellites for two separate customers: NEONSAT-1, an Earth observation satellite for the Satellite Technology Research Center (SaTReC) at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), and NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3).

The primary payload for this mission, NEONSAT-1, is an Earth observation satellite with a high-resolution optical camera designed to monitor for natural disasters along the Korean Peninsula by pairing its images with artificial intelligence. NEONSAT-1 is the first satellite developed under the NEONSAT program by SaTReC and KAIST, Korea’s leading university in science and technology, which developed and operated Korea’s very first satellite KITSAT-1 more than 30 years ago. Other NEONSAT satellites are planned to be launched in 2026 and 2027 to build out the NEONSAT constellation. The program is a collaboration across multiple Korean academic, industry, and research institutions including SaTReC in KAIST, which is leading the program’s system design and engineering; the SaTReC Initiative, a Korean satellite manufacturer that has successfully developed seven previous remote sensing satellites for low Earth orbit; and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), which is managing the mission’s ground segments and technology supervision for the NEONSAT program. NEONSAT is funded by the Koren government’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT).

NASA’s ACS3 is a technology demonstration of new materials and deployable structures for solar sail propulsion systems that use sunlight to propel the spacecraft. Much like a sailboat is powered by wind pushing against a sail, solar sails employ the pressure of sunlight for propulsion, eliminating the need for conventional rocket propellant. The mission plans to test the deployment of new composite booms that will unfurl the solar sail to measure approximately 30 feet per side, or about the size of a small apartment in total. Flight data obtained during the demonstration will be used for designing future larger-scale composite solar sail systems for space weather early warning satellites, asteroid and other small body reconnaissance missions, and missions to observe the polar regions of the sun. The ACS3 was designed and built at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, and the technology demonstration is managed and funded by the Small Spacecraft Technology program at and with NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, interested in larger solar sail missions in the future, is funding an extended operations component to execute a series of maneuvers to raise and lower the spacecraft’s orbit, demonstrating the practicality of solar sailing.

The capability of Electron’s Kick Stage to perform multiple engine burns in space and deploy individual satellites to unique orbits is critical to this mission. The Kick Stage will first ignite its Curie engine to deploy NEONSAT-1 to its target 520km circular Earth orbit. After the payload’s separation, it will ignite its Curie engine again to perform an apogee raise to 1,000km. Once in this phasing orbit, the Curie will ignite a third time to circularise before deploying the solar sail demonstration spacecraft. The Kick Stage will then ignite Curie a fourth and final time to perform a deorbit burn that returns the Kick Stage closer to Earth, speeding up its eventual deorbit and removal from space to support a more sustainable space environment. Rocket Lab has demonstrated similar orbit raises, inclination changes, and deorbit maneuvers across previous Electron missions and most recently with its successful spacecraft re-entry for Varda on February 21, 2024.

‘Beginning Of The Swarm’ will be Rocket Lab’s fifth mission of 2024 and the 47th Electron launch overall. Launch window opens no-earlier-than April 24, 2024.

Source: Rocket Lab

Mahia, New Zealand. March 13, 2024 – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today launched its 45th Electron rocket, successfully deploying a fourth synthetic aperture radar satellite to Synspective’s Earth-observation constellation.

“Owl Night Long,” a dedicated mission for Synspective, launched from Pad B at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 04:03 NZDT March 13, 2024 (15:03 UTC, March 12). The mission delivered a single spacecraft, the StriX-3 satellite, to a 561km Sun Synchronous Orbit, where it joined Synspective’s growing constellation.

Rocket Lab has been the sole launch provider for Synspective’s constellation, previously delivering three satellites across launches in September 2022, February 2022, and December 2020. Rocket Lab will launch two more missions for Synspective as part of a multi-launch agreement signed in 2023.

“Owl Night Long” was Rocket Lab’s third Electron mission of 2024. Rocket Lab’s next launch is scheduled to liftoff no earlier than March 20th from Launch Complex 2 in Wallops, Virginia for the National Reconnaissance Office.

About Synspective

Synspective, established in 2018, is an end-to-end SAR satellite data and solution provider with the mission to realize a learning world for people to expand their capabilities and make tangible progress with new data and technologies. With a SAR satellite constellation that enables high-frequency and high-resolution Earth observation, Synspective delivers satellite data and various solutions that combine SAR and IoT data with machine learning and data science techniques.

Source: Rocket Lab

Long Beach, Calif. 27 February 2024 – Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, today introduced its family of spacecraft buses, consolidating the custom designs Rocket Lab has developed for multiple customers and missions. The family of spacecraft is the result of more than four years of development into Rocket Lab’s space systems capabilities.

“We’ve had the privilege of developing, launching, and operating spacecraft for a broad range of customers and they’ve all told us the same thing: They need reliable and highly capable spacecraft built quickly and affordably. Photon was the start, but the Rocket Lab spacecraft family has grown,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “We’ve developed a configurable spacecraft line that delivers high performance at scale, supported by an experienced team, technical maturity, a vertically-integrated supply chain, and advanced manufacturing, test and operations facilities. We’ve designed these spacecraft through close collaboration with our customers to support real missions at constellation scale. The hard development work is done, and now these spacecraft are available as off-the-shelf products, or they can be further customized to meet specific mission requirements.”

The spacecraft share many common components and subsystems, designed and manufactured in-house by Rocket Lab, including carbon composite structures, star trackers, reaction wheels, solar arrays, radios, separation systems, avionics, flight and ground software.

"Through vertical integration, we’re able to deliver spacecraft quickly, affordably and reliably using flight-proven components”, says Rocket Lab Vice President Space Systems, Brad Clevenger. “We’ve struck the right balance between commonality to deliver cost-effective, rapid production and ensuring our spacecraft are configurable to suit unique and specific mission profiles.”

Rocket Lab’s family of spacecraft includes:

Photon: The original Rocket Lab spacecraft, Photon is the Company’s integrated launch-plus-spacecraft solution. Photon is a modified Electron Kick Stage with power, propulsion, and communications to deliver a capable low Earth orbit (LEO) platform that serves civil, defense and commercial customers across a range of missions. With a mass of 200-300kg, Photon is launched on Electron for responsive space and other challenging missions like cryogenic fuel demonstration, taking advantage of precision orbit insertion, launch on demand, and the lowest launch environments in industry.

Lightning: Rocket Lab’s newest spacecraft bus is designed for a 12+ year orbital lifespan in LEO, delivers high power and high radiation tolerance, incorporating redundancy in critical subsystems. This ~3 kW bus is ideal for high operational duty cycle telecommunications and remote sensing applications. Lightning can be launched on Neutron and other medium and heavy launch vehicles. Lightning is based on the same design as the custom spacecraft Rocket Lab developed for MDA and Globalstar and is the basis for the Company’s bus for the Space Development Agency.

Pioneer: A highly configurable medium delta-V platform designed to support payloads up to 120 kg and unique mission profiles, including re-entry missions for Varda Space Industries, and dynamic space operations. Depending on the mission profile, Pioneer can be launched on Electron, Neutron or other launch vehicles.

Explorer: A high delta-V spacecraft with large propellant tanks, deep space capable avionics, and ranging transponders. Explorer enables small spacecraft missions to planetary destinations like Mars and Venus, the Moon, highly eccentric Earth orbits, geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), Earth-moon Lagrange points, Earth-sun Lagrange points, and near Earth objects (NEOs). Depending on the mission profile, Explorer can be launched on Electron, Neutron or other launch vehicles. Explorer gained flight heritage during the CAPSTONE mission to the Moon for NASA and forms the basis of the twin spacecraft Rocket Lab is developing for the ESCAPADE mission to Mars for NASA and the University of California, Berkeley.

Each member of Rocket Lab’s spacecraft family is currently in production in a range of quantities for different customers, with more than 40 satellites currently in backlog. To support the rapid production of our family of spacecraft, Rocket Lab has established an advanced spacecraft development and manufacturing complex at the Company’s Long Beach headquarters. The facility includes over 10,000 sq. ft. of cleanroom and 40,000 sq. ft. of additional production & test facilities designed to support constellation class manufacturing and satellite assembly, integration and test for commercial, civil and national security customers.

Source: Rocket Lab

Long Beach,California. 21 February, 2024 – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced it will launch a dedicated mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Launch Complex 2 in Wallops, Virginia, during a launch window that opens March 20th, 2024.

The NROL-123 mission, called ‘Live and Let Fly’, will be Rocket Lab’s first launch for the NRO from the United States after previously launching four NRO missions from Launch Complex 1 on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. It will be Rocket Lab’s 4th mission from Launch Complex 2, a dedicated pad for the Electron rocket located at Virginia Spaceport Authority's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport within the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

“Electron has been providing reliable access to orbit for the NRO since 2020 and we’re honored to once again provide critical launch capability, this time from U.S. soil,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “The ability to reliably launch national security missions from pads in two countries is a unique one that offers a rare level of responsiveness and resiliency for small satellite launch. We’re immensely proud to deliver this capability to the NRO, enabling them to maintain the nation’s advantage in space.”

The ‘Live and Let Fly’ launch service was acquired using NRO’s Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract. RASR enables the NRO to explore new opportunities for launching small satellites through a streamlined, commercial approach.NRO missions provide critical information to more than a half-million government users, including every member of the Intelligence Community, two dozen domestic agencies, the military, lawmakers, and decision makers.

The mission is scheduled to be Rocket Lab’s fourth launch of 2024 and 46th Electron launch overall.

Source: Rocket Lab

Mahia, New Zealand. February 19, 2024 – Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today launched its 44th Electron rocket, successfully deploying an orbital debris inspection satellite for Astroscale Japan Inc.

The mission, named “On Closer Inspection”, launched from Pad B at Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand at 03:52 NZDT February 19th, 2024 (14:52 UTC, February 18th). Electron deployed the Active Debris Removal by Astroscale-Japan (ADRAS-J), a satellite designed to test technologies and operations for approaching and monitoring debris objects in orbit, also known as space junk. The mission is the first phase in assessing the potential for satellites to rendezvous with orbital debris objects in future and assist in de-orbiting them, supporting space sustainability for future generations.

Following the successful launch on Electron, the 150-kilogram ADRAS-J satellite will now approach an aged, derelict rocket stage in orbit to observe it closely, understand how it behaves and determine potential methods for its assisted deorbiting in future. The rocket stage it will be observing is the Japanese H-2A upper stage left in low Earth orbit after the launch of the GOSAT Earth observation satellite in 2009. ADRAS-J will fly around the stage, 11 meters long and four meters in diameter, inspecting it with cameras and sensors. Astroscale’s full mission will take between three and six months to complete.

“Congratulations to the Astroscale team on this historic mission that paves the way for new and innovative ways to reduce orbital debris and ensure space remains safely accessible,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck. “It’s a real honor to provide a dedicated launch service and enable the kind of precise orbital maneuvers required for an advanced mission like this.”

To enable the ADRAS-J satellite to rendezvous with the derelict H-2A upper stage in orbit, Rocket Lab had to design a mission with strict launch timing and precision orbital deployment parameters. Rocket Lab only received the final perigee, apogee, and inclination from Astroscale 20 days before launch, parameters that are typically determined many months in advance of a launch. Only then could argument of perigee targets for different days within the launch window be selected, essentially determining the timing of Electron Kick Stage burns to facilitate the unique elliptical orbit required depending on the launch date. The mission demanded highly accurate orbital insertion with tighter margins than required on most standard missions. The exact T-0 was only able to be defined the day prior to launch and the required LTAN accuracy only allows for +/- 15 seconds, demonstrating Rocket Lab’s capability to deliver rapid and responsive advanced guidance, navigation and control analysis.

“Today’s successful launch of ADRAS-J marks another milestone toward our efforts to grow the on-orbit servicing sector while creating a sustainable space environment,” said Astroscale founder & CEO Nobu Okada. “We are grateful for the collaboration with Rocket Lab, whose expertise in dedicated launch services has been instrumental to the start of this ground breaking mission.”

Source: Rocket Lab

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